Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Can Oscar finally name a 'Harry' film?

As far as Academy Awards are concerned, Harry Potter really is in the same boat as constant nemesis Lord Voldemort. Just call the movie wiz "He Who Must Not Be Named."
Seriously, over a full decade of seven immensely popular "Harry Potter" films, none has ever received an Oscar, despite nine nominations.
Can the masterful "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2," the eighth and final chapter in the blockbuster film series, break the spell? Sure, why not?
Honestly, it's easily one of the finest films of the year so far, and there is some precedent in rewarding last movies of a popular brand with Best Picture hardware (see "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King").
Regardless -- and at least on the record -- "Hallows 2" filmmakers do not seem so concerned, particularly Steve Kloves, who has written seven of the eight Potter films (all but "Order of the Phoenix," penned by Michael Goldenberg.)
"I don't care," Kloves answered Sunday afternoon when I asked him if this last hurrah might be the film that wins him and Harry an Oscar. "I really mean that. I really don't care about the Oscars for myself. I would like to see some of the people I've worked with recognized, and I will say one thing: I just think the kids have been underestimated.
"I think their work has been extraordinary, especially given that Emma (Watson, with Kloves at right) was 10 and Dan (Radcliffe) and Rupert (Grint) were 11 when they started. Now look what they're doing. Dan, I think, really is brilliant in this movie."
Kloves, who does own a 2004 Oscar nom for adapting "Wonder Boys" for the screen, continued:
"Also, how can (production designer) Stuart Craig be ignored after 10 years of this design? It's big-timber design we'll never see again. We'll just never see it again! It would be nice for everyone else, too, but for me, I just don't care."
OK, then, what might David Heyman think? He's of course the lucky gent who read J.K. Rowling's first book as an unpublished manuscript in 1997 -- on the advice of his secretary, by the way -- and has since produced the most successful film franchise of all time.
Sounding genuinely sincere during a similarly brief Sunday chat at New York's famous Waldorf Astoria, Heyman answered:
"You know what? These films are made for the audience and, if they win awards, that's fine. We were given an award as a series from BAFTA last year for good cinema. But the biggest gifts still come from our audience.
"When we went to Trafalgar Square (three days earlier in London)," added Heyman (at left with Ralph "Voldemort" Fiennes) with a big smile, "it was so moving to see how enthusiastic they were for us. It's this kind of love and support that mean so much to us."
"Hallows 2" director David Yates (pictured below), who deserves serious awards consideration as well, was equally gracious in discussing the possibilities.
"You know, at this point, we haven't give up on (winning)," he told me, "but I think there have been so many rewards already. I don't even like to think about it in those terms.
"Certainly it would be wonderful if people like Stuart Craig or (composer) Alexandre Desplat or Tim Burke, who did the visual effects, would be recognized.
"I am very proud of the film, but the audience, for me, as long as they enjoy it, is always the most important thing," Yates concluded.
For the record, Yates' "Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows -- Part 1" received two nominations last year: Craig's (with Stephenie McMillan) for Best Art Direction, and Burke's (with his team of John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi) for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.
Neither won. Nor did the Potter types nominated seven times previously. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" still leads the young wizard's pack with three Oscar mentions. "Prisoner of Azkaban" (two),"Goblet of Fire" (one) and "Half-Blood Prince" (one) also received nods from the revered Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
If predictions are in order right now, look for "The Deathly Hallows -- Part 2" to earn nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and (yes, Steve!) Best Adapted Screenplay. In acting categories, Alan Rickman certainly presents a strong argument in his hypnotic supporting role as Professor Severus Snape. Alas, however, those grand "kids" --now all at least 21 -- likely will be ignored once again.
Meanwhile, read my review of the "Potter" finale sometime on Thursday -- as well as the mature words of the lovely Hermione herself (Emma Watson) -- at both Sun News and CriticsChoice.

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